Since its inception (2009), IDFI has been trying to contribute to the study and analysis of Georgia’s Soviet past. Soviet Studies is one of IDFI’s thematic areas that involves efforts towards opening Soviet archives and ensuring access of archival documents to the public. In order to preserve the memory of the victims of Soviet repressions, IDFI assists families in finding information about their repressed relatives as well as in seeking compensation.
Due to common goals, IDFI started cooperating with Memorial (a society for supporting families and keeping the memory of Soviet repression victims in Georgia) in 2009, when the building housing its office was sold and the unique archive created over the previous 16 years (Memorial was founded in 1992) was left without storage space. IDFI allocated a part of its office for the employees of Memorial to work in and keep the archive that contains:
- A card index of 30 thousand repressed persons
- Fill in forms of 9 thousand repressed persons
- Publications on Soviet repressions and repressed persons
- Audio and video recordings of Memorial Wednesdays organized by Society Memorial
Later, in 2011, IDFI and Memorial officially signed a memorandum of cooperation, which resulted in a number of interesting, joint research projects, publications and events:
-A three-year long project resulted in the creation of Stalin's Lists on Georgia - the first electronic database in Georgia that contains brief biographical information about victims of 1937-38 repressions. The presentation of the database was held in the Parliament of Georgia with the financial support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation and the Swiss Embassy in Georgia.
- The organizations also published a book titled Stalin's Lists on Georgia, which includes data on the victims of the Great Terror of 1937-1938, namely, information on persons sentenced directly by Stalin and other members of the Politburo (3,616 persons in total). Since 2011, IDFI and Memorial held a number of exhibitions (June 11, 2012 - Goethe Institute, Tbilisi; February 19, 2013 - Historical Museum, Rustavi) on this topic with the help of our partners (Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) and funding of international organizations.
- IDFI also organized an exhibition on the 1937-1938 repressions for the purpose of understanding the country’s totalitarian past. The exhibition included unique documents and photos depicting tragic events in Georgia. These documents were gathered from the archives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Society Memorial, as well as private family archives.
- On December 21, 2014, on the day of Stalin’s birth, IDFI held a symbolic demonstration aimed at keeping the memory of victims of 1937-38 repressions. IDFI researchers conducted several lectures on Stalinism and mass repressions.
- For the past six years, every September 25, IDFI and Memorial have been organizing exhibitions in front of the Parliament building (Tbilisi) titled the Results of Georgia’s Sovietization. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of persons imprisoned and executed on political grounds in the first years of Georgia’s Soviet occupation. The purpose of the exhibition is to raise public awareness on the anti-humanist nature of Bolshevism.
- On May 20, 2016, IDFI in cooperation with Tbilisi City Hall, Ministry of Defense, Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Memorial organized an event in honor of Georgian officers executed by Bolshevik Russia in 1923.IDFI and Memorial used the data held by the Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to locate the addresses of executed officers and requested Tbilisi City Hall to put up memorial plaques in these locations. Tbilisi City Hall liked the initiative and had the plaques placed at appropriate addresses.
In the future, cooperation between IDFI and Memorial will involve joint research activities, digitalization of the video and audio records of the Memorial archive, discovery of places of execution of political prisoners and placing memorial plaques at the addresses of repressed citizens. Finally, more exhibitions will be held on repressed families and political prisoners of the Soviet period.